Materials

Aussie miners set to benefit from tighter US tariffs

Mon 20 May 24, 11:40am (AEST)
Generic image of the US flag
Source: Unsplash

Key Points

  • US President Biden announced a major hike in tariffs on Chinese imports, impacting $18 billion worth of goods
  • Biden emphasised that these measures aim for fair competition rather than conflict with China
  • A temporary demand dip for Australian critical metals could result but several stand to benefit in the longer term

As the US Presidential race heats up, incumbent President Joe Biden last week announced tighter tarrifs on the import of China’s critical metals. Affecting US$18 billion of imported Chinese goods, the new measures include:

  • quadrupling of duties on electric vehicles to more than 100%,

  • doubling of semiconductor tariffs to 50%, and

  • a three-fold rise in the tariffs on lithium-ion EV batteries and critical minerals.

“I want fair competition with China, not conflict. And we’re in a stronger position to win that economic competition of the 21st century against China than anyone else because we’re investing in America again,” US President Biden said last week.

Focusing on the implications for Australian miners, Macquarie analysts noted iron ore producers were largely unaffected. That’s because iron ore and coking coal are primiarily driven by ex-US market factors.

“In graphite the tariff rate on natural graphite will increase from 0% to 25% in 2026, a tailwind that could directly increase prices, albeit the benefits are for natural graphite only,” Macquarie says in a recent report.

This also aligns with the also aligns with the US’s “foreign entity of concern” timing on cutting down Chinese controlled graphite (which is around 95% of the market).

Secondary implications for lithium and rare earths

“In 2024, the tariff rate on EVs will increase from 25% to 100% while the rate on lithium EV batteries will rise from 7.5% to 25%.

“While this could be positive for non-China EV and battery makers, we highlight higher levies could be partially offset by productivity improvement at Chinese companies. Lithium and rare earths materials a secondary impact, in our view,” says Macquarie.

On the back of these measures, demand for Australian critical metals is expected to dip temporarily. That’s because Australia exports about 90% of our extracted critical minerals to China.

But the longer-term backdrop is expected to improve as the US diversifies its imports of critical minerals to markets outside of China.

The Macquarie report looks at some of the potential winners among Australian miners.

Graphite producers the clear winners

Macquaries calls out graphite producers as clear winners, given the US measures directly increase graphite prices.

Syrah Resources (ASX: SYR)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: 90 cents

  • Latest close: 52 cents

Already in production, “SYR is well-placed to capture the earnings upside,” Macquarie says. “Minor winners include Talga Group, Blackrock Mining, and Renascore Resources, due to not yet being in production.”

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.49.06 AM
SYR 12 month share price (Source: Market Index)

Talga Group (ASX: TLG)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: $2

  • Latest close: 82 cents

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.52.44 AM
TLG 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Blackrock Mining (ASX: BKT)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: 25 cents

  • Latest close: 6 cents

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.53.20 AM

BKT 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Renascore Resources (ASX: RNU)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: 25 cents

  • Latest close: 12 cents

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.54.53 AM
RNU 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Aluminium producers

The tariff measures are also a positive for aluminium smelters, Macquarie noting Rio Tinto has 30% exposure to aluminium.

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO)

  • Rating: NEUTRAL

  • Price target: $121

  • Latest close: $134

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.58.19 AM
RIO 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Alumina (ASX: AWC)

  • Rating: NEUTRAL

  • Price target: $1.40

  • Latest close: $1.71

“Alcoa’s portfolio could expand with the completion of the (Alumina (ASX: AWC) acquisition.

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.58.48 AM
AWC 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

South32 (ASX: S32)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: $3.90

  • Latest close: $3.76

We note ~45% of S32’s net present value is aluminium, the tariffs could help the company to further re-rate, in our view,” says Macquarie.

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 10.59.28 AM
S32 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Positive for rare earths and lithium

“Higher tariffs following (Inflation Reduction Act) IRA indicate a systematic approach by the US goverment to secure its critical minerals supply chain,” says Macqaurie.

Arcadium Lithium (ASX: LTM)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: $9.40

“While lithium prices are unlikely to lift as a result of higher tariffs, we believe Arcadium Lithium (ASX: LTM) could receive increased floor prices in its future LiOH contract renewal as gigafactories try to secure supply,” says Macquarie.

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 11.17.38 AM
LTM 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

“Piedmont Lithium and Sayona Mining are also well-placed on lithium supply chain which have operations and projects in North America. There is not much magnet production capacity (~11%) outside of China.”

Piedmont Lithium (ASX: PLL)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: US 36 cents

  • Latest close: US 23 cents

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 11.01.53 AM
PLL 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Sayona Mining (ASX: SYC)

  • Rating: NEUTRAL

  • Price target: 4 cents

  • Latest close: 5 cents

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 11.03.01 AM
SYA 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Rare earths

With independent rare earths supply again under the spotlight, Macquarie cites Lynas Rare Earths as a potential key winner given its light and heavy rare earths development plans in the US.

Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: $7

  • Latest close: $6.97

“There is not much magnet production capacity (~11%) outside of China. However, independent rare earths supply is again under the spotlight,” Macquarie says.

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 11.03.52 AM
SYA 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

Rare earths

With independent rare earths supply again under the spotlight, Macquarie cites Lynas Rare Earths as a potential key winner given its light and heavy rare earths development plans in the US.

Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC)

  • Rating: OUTPERFORM

  • Price target: $7

  • Latest close: $6.97

“There is not much magnet production capacity (~11%) outside of China. However, independent rare earths supply is again under the spotlight,” Macquarie says.

Screenshot 2024-05-20 at 11.03.52 AM
LYC 12-month share price (Source: Market Index)

 

Written By

Glenn Freeman

Content Editor

Glenn is a Content Editor at Livewire Markets and Market Index. Glenn has almost 20 years’ experience in financial services writing and editing. Glenn’s journalistic experience also spans energy and automotive, in both Australia and abroad – including the Middle East – where he edited an oil and gas publication in the United Arab Emirates.

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